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Fumes: Talkin' About My Generation (and Cars)

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#1

black-knight

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 03:00 PM

G. Noble
Editor/Reporter
CheersandGears.com
28th February, 2012

It’s now official; the majority of my generation — Generation Y — has a deep-rooted dislike for the automobile. Unlike our parents from the Baby Boomer and Generation X age brackets, we no longer associate cars with our own independence. Instead, smartphones and laptops have become symbols of autonomy in my generation.

I’ll admit that it didn’t exactly make sense to me when I first caught wind of it.

I’m a ripe 21 years-old, which almost puts me smack dab in the middle of Generation Y, and I personally love cars. It’s always been that way since I discovered the ability to talk and walk. As a boy, I grew up flipping through old issues of Car and Driver and admiring photos of all the sheetmetal; I grew up traveling 70 miles one way between home and relatives about once every month. I grew up hanging out before and after school in the Chrysler service department where my mother once worked before the dealer was shut down for warranty fraud; I also grew up looking forward to my sixteenth birthday and getting my driver’s permit I also love driving, especially when I have an open stretch of road mostly to myself.

I know it sounds like I’m just another massive petrol head, and that may be so. I’ll certainly never deny it. What I couldn’t understand was how I suddenly became a generational oddity overnight, someone who still viewed the car as one of the few ultimate forms of personal liberation.

Along with the initial confusion came worry as well. There are around 76 million people that make up my generation, about three times the size of the preceding Generation X and pretty much the same size as the Baby Boomer generation. We make up a fourth of the U.S. population. The thought of well over half of my generation in total discord with the automobile could effectively mean that my hopes of a career in auto journalism would all be for naught. After all, our time as the leading generation is rapidly approaching and when the majority of the leading generation doesn’t bother with cars, that means no one will want to read or hear about them. That means I might as well hang it up.

This news bothered me so much that, for the first time in a little while, I had to really sit down and examine the bigger picture, think in a new context. How did we go from personal transportation all the way down to personal electronics?

(Cont. page 2)





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#2

Drew Dowdell

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 03:15 PM

fixed the dupe comment thread
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#3

Camino LS6

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 04:52 PM

Excellent read!

Great job!
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#4

daves87rs

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 08:26 PM

Some good points there...
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#5

dfelt

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 09:06 PM

Very interesting points made, It is sad to see people think they have freedom being on a phone or computer and not getting out to see this amazing planet we live on. Sad commentary of the Y Generation.

This tends to tell me that Big Brother has won in telling you where to live, what to do, what to see and generally how to live life when people are not willing to get out and see the world.

The experiance of seeing the world in person cannot and never will be made up from being in front of a computer.
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#6

black-knight

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 10:23 PM

Hmmm .. a red mark, huh?

I'd like to ask that the individual who handed that to me come forward and intelligently discuss with me why they disagreed with the article. You know who you are. Please, don't hide behind the ratings system.

With that said, thanks Camino, dave, and dfelt for the nice comments. I poured quite a bit of effort into this editorial and it really means a lot.

Very interesting points made, It is sad to see people think they have freedom being on a phone or computer and not getting out to see this amazing planet we live on. Sad commentary of the Y Generation.

This tends to tell me that Big Brother has won in telling you where to live, what to do, what to see and generally how to live life when people are not willing to get out and see the world.

The experiance of seeing the world in person cannot and never will be made up from being in front of a computer.


Interesting commentary.

However, I wouldn't say that we "think [we] have freedom being on a phone or computer." That really isn't the case.

Edited by black-knight, 28 February 2012 - 10:33 PM.

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#7

Cubical-aka-Moltar

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 11:12 PM

Finally had time to read this...good write up, some good points. Things have definitely changed in the 20 years since I was 21...I couldn't imagine growing up w/o a car and the freedom to go out and explore..
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#8

daves87rs

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 11:16 PM

I think dfelt is focusing too much on the generation itself, and not the issue at hand here. While he does have the right to his opinion (and I can respect that), I'm really digging the insight in the article.

Besides, it's hard to hit one generation when it is a problem for society in general (put down the damn phone! lol)
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#9

balthazar

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 11:32 PM

Well said.

I've advocated a 'MinimalistKar' on here before. Not that that is specifically what's targeted here, but the end result is pretty much the same; not EVERYTHING needs 10 airbags, 20 electronic nannies and 30 miles of wiring.

IMO, the only real way around this is to UNBUNDLE equipment/ options/ packages, so many models start affordably (& lightweight), and allow those Gen Ys to get in affordably on the ground floor. Make as many of the options 'plug-in' as possible, or at least user-friendly to add on and you start reeling them in again.
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#10

riviera74

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 10:13 AM

A minimalist car for Gen Y. Hmmm. Not a bad idea, but they also might want to customize everything too. Also, it seems what our intrepid poster wants is a $10,000 car that anyone his age can afford. At this point, no automaker in the West can make an affordable $10,000 car. A long time ago, I had a 1980 Buick Regal with a 4.9L V8 and found and read the original receipt. It was bought December 1979 and the price was $9800. I still remember commercials for cheap pickup trucks that were around the same price in 1990. In 2012, how do you get to a $10,000 NEW car? You can't. Between safety features, extra weight and the demand for more features in a smaller package, our current landscape is biased up towards $30,000 rather than $10,000. If you want anything that is actually worth driving, $10,000 suddenly becomes $25,000 very fast.

Now if the USA could reduce safety standards to 1980 levels, then $10,000 is no longer nearly impossible without the large sacrifices made from driving. I do not see anyone pining for a $10,000 Chevy Spark, but there are a lot more (desirable) Mini Coopers running around where I live. Those Coopers are seldom below $25,000.

Balthazar's idea is sound, but that might bring a $25,000 car to $18,000. Ideally, an automaker would build a new $8000 stripper and then add features individually to bring it to $10,000. Now, who can make it profitable?
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#11

regfootball

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 10:27 AM

first hand, one main reason kids aren't into cars. can't afford em, can't get credit. parents can't afford em either. including insurance.

there is nothing you can do with price or content on a car if the buyers have a snowball's chance in hell of producing the funds.
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#12

z28luvr01

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 10:41 AM

A very compelling read. It seems people have fallen out of love with the automobile. It's something we need, but no longer something to be desired.

When people show off their new cars these days, it's not about how powerful it is or how fun it is to drive or customize, it's all about what you can do with the car, like heat/cool your hands on the steering wheel or hook up your phone to the sound system.

I agree strongly on the idea of a minimalist car. If GM needs a template to follow, look no further than the 1955-57 fullsized Chevrolets. They had attention getting styling for the time. They were dirt cheap, but could be optioned up eleventybillion differernt ways. They were infinitely customizable.

Heck, while I'm on the Bel Air kick, what about something along the lines of the Bel Air concept from a few years back? Not the exact car, but maybe take that idea and stretch it over the new Colorado frame.
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#13

Cubical-aka-Moltar

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 10:41 AM

Wasn't the Nissan Versa or Hyundai Accent around $10k?
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#14

z28luvr01

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 10:49 AM

Yes, and that's the point of the article...if you saved your whole life for your first new car and had 10K to spend, would you want it to be one of those two? Me neither.
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#15

dfelt

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 01:20 PM

I think dfelt is focusing too much on the generation itself, and not the issue at hand here. While he does have the right to his opinion (and I can respect that), I'm really digging the insight in the article.

Besides, it's hard to hit one generation when it is a problem for society in general (put down the damn phone! lol)


Yes I am focused on the generation itself, I read this once and went to lunch and instead of going with coworkers, I went by myself so that I could just sit and observe.

I notice that the older you are, the less you are mesing with electronics and the more social you are with people around you. Being in a very Hi-Tech city of Seattle. I could not help but notice the large amount of 20 something people in groups, but all would have a few words to each other and most of the time on their smartphones.

Due to myself being crazy about auto's and loving road trips which my parents did most weekends growing up so that we could see the state of washington and learn about the world we live in, I had not really paid much attention to other young adults as m own kids grew up and while my son and daughter do not care much about the over all auto, they both require 4x4 / awd cuv's so that they can go camping, up the mountain to snowboard and live for the most part a very active life style due to how my wife and I kept them busy.

Friday to sunday my daughter is out with her friends doing things and my son 7 days a week is always out after work. He put more miles on the Dodge Dakota I gave him that I bought new. I turned it over at 76K miles and now it has 212K miles.

My other observation of the Y generation is that the more plugged in they are, the more over weight they seem to be. Not everyone, but thee does seem to be a corrolation about out living life as an active life style and being sedetary on your computer or phone plugged in.

I think it needs to come from the 30, 40's and 50's generation to get the 20's out of their comfort zone and see the world. Auto's are a freedom machine.

The Auto Industry can benefit by doing as Balthazar said. Unbundle these fully loaded Auto's and get back to a basic simple auto for transportation.
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#16

dfelt

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 01:32 PM

Well said.

I've advocated a 'MinimalistKar' on here before. Not that that is specifically what's targeted here, but the end result is pretty much the same; not EVERYTHING needs 10 airbags, 20 electronic nannies and 30 miles of wiring.

IMO, the only real way around this is to UNBUNDLE equipment/ options/ packages, so many models start affordably (& lightweight), and allow those Gen Ys to get in affordably on the ground floor. Make as many of the options 'plug-in' as possible, or at least user-friendly to add on and you start reeling them in again.


I totally agree, I have been working with my son for his first new car purchase and he finally got it down to the following 3 CUV's

Ford Escape

Jeep Compass

Chevy Equinox

Now all were right around 22K MSRP for your basic AWD, 4 banger motor, etc.

We were looking last night on the web pages again and noticed all 3 had a considerable bump in price with the Chevy being the most expensive. They now only have 2 options on the base Equinox AWD LS and it now starts at 25. The variety of options is now gone and they seem to have gone to here is our 6 versions, 3 levels of FWD and 3 levels of AWD. Select which one you want and decide if you want the Protection package or towing package and the rest is standard equipment.

Not truly having a base stripped down level for people to buy will keep people from buying.

As much as I hate Toyota, I will give them credit that the Scion way of buying the base car stripped and adding what you want would be a very good thing for the US auto Makers to take to heart.

My Son would love to buy a base high milage AWD CUV and add to the auto as he makes money. Purchase a NAV unit down the road, add other features.

I think the First maker to take the base way of Cars but do it on more then just econo boxs will find a very willing and excited market of buyers.

Think of this lineup:

Base small size truck 2wd and 4x4
Small AWD CUV
Small 4 door car

They all come in with the only difference being 2 or 3 engine choices. Then they have a consistent base interior and you can then purchase 3rd part items to customize the inerior.

I do not believe it is law that you have to have all these air bags and nanny devices. So the cost of these auto's would be low and allow people to truly customize their ride as a first auto and as they made money, they could come back and purchase modules to install into their auto.
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#17

black-knight

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 04:08 PM

I'm not going to leave completely overwrought, massive comments in this thread because I prefer listening to what you guys have to say on the subject. It's very interesting, to say the least. That said, I will say this — you can't just stop at making cars a little more basic than they are now. Like I said in the article, you can build cheap, basic cars like the Nissan Versa all day long and we won't buy one because it's not terribly efficient, horrendous to look at, and is simply awful to drive.

It's why Scion hasn't set a fire under the ass of every 21 year-old out there. Sure, the buying concept is bang on, but it doesn't amount to much when you build cars that look and behave like cardboard boxes with doughnuts for tires.

Just because you charge $14,000 large for a car doesn't mean it has to be something stupid and disposable.

While writing up my assessments of the Chevrolet Code130R, Chevy Tru140S, Dodge Razor, and Dodge M80 concept cars, I kept thinking back to the very first Mustang the entire time. That car had such a great formula. You could buy a good looking, decent driving, lightweight car for a small amount of money, and if you wanted more options that better suited your needs, you could buy them from the factory piece by piece for bargain prices. The fact it was based around the compact Falcon and a bunch of shared parts made it the right size, cheap to mend, and proven.

Our generation absolutely needs a garden variety of cars like the Mustang and other pony cars were to the Baby Boomers.

Edited by black-knight, 29 February 2012 - 04:11 PM.

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#18

SAmadei

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 04:34 PM

The $10K car gets farther and farther away with every new law. Airbags required. ABS required. Intelligent Airbags required. TC required. Now there was an article on Jalopnik that rear facing cameras will be required starting in 2014... http://jalopnik.com/...-every-cars-ass ...which requires a screen and other upgrades.
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#19

dfelt

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 07:14 PM

I think Black-knight that if GM could come up with a smart looking 2door and 4 door model that appeals to the 20 something crowd with a Modular dash that allows ease of upgrading as you save money to buy new features for your auto that you could end up with a very promising auto.

I could see something about the size of the Mini 4 door and 2 door with FWD and the performance version being AWD but with a modular interior that would allow you to upgrade and add to your auto so customize it with your personality.

I agree that the very basic entry level auto out there are TURDS!
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#20

balthazar

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 07:33 PM

The $10K car gets farther and farther away with every new law. Airbags required. ABS required. Intelligent Airbags required. TC required. Now there was an article on Jalopnik that rear facing cameras will be required starting in 2014... http://jalopnik.com/...-every-cars-ass ...which requires a screen and other upgrades.


Sweetmercifulcrap- why???
I can heat Camino's 'voice' right now saying 'See how Gov't sucks the joy right out of a situation?' and he'd be dead right.

And this is exactly why a 2015 M80 would never come close to 2500 lbs. A mini weighs over 2500 and it's almost 2-ft shorter & FWD.
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